Iowa governor Tom Vilsack says he’s not going to ask lawmakers to cover salary increases for state workers next year. That will mean state agencies have to use existing budgets to cover contract raises, totaling fifty-Million dollars. Vilsack says there’s a “fiscal reality” to deal with at the same time state leaders focus on making sure schools and healthcare have adequate funding. Still, House Speaker Christopher Rants says he’s glad the governor is admitting there isn’t enough money to cover the pay raises — but the republican from Sioux City says asking state agencies to make up the difference will present its own set of problems. Rants says it may result in layoffs, one reason Republicans have suggested freezing salaries of state workers. The governor’s resisted the call for freezing state salaries. Vilsack says he’s not ready to concede that, saying the state can still look for more efficiencies, a job that goes on all the time in both private business and in government. House speaker Rants says the governor’s refusal to order a hold on all raises for state workers has not helped agencies deal with the budget situation they face.If he acknowledges there isn’t money to fund all the raises, there will be layoffs, and Rants says freezing salaries would be a better solution. Republican Rants also says state workers could take an unpaid furlough to save the state money, a move that’s not unprecedented, even in private industry. Rants says the AFL-CIO has a tight budget and has asked its workers to take a 2-day furlough, another idea that the state could use to avoid layoffs and still ensure vital services are provided. Governor Vilsack says his agency heads will have the opportunity to find “efficiencies” that help them deal with the budget cap. Vilsack says by announcing the new policy, he hopes to give state agencies six or seven months to absorb and deal with it before the start of the next fiscal year. Earlier the legislature struck a deal with the presidents of Iowa’s three state universities, forcing them to absorb pay raises themselves.
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